By Doug Cunningham
Fifteen hundred members of the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses And Allied Professionals have set a strike deadline of March 31st at Temple University Hospital. The nurses have been without a contract since September. The union says management has no intention of good-faith negotiating. Among the issues to be resolved are wages, nurse-patient staffing ratios and benefits. Also at issue: a management demand that it control what nurses and members of the union say publicly about hospital management.
Workers have begun taking to the streets to let politicians know they are concerned and outraged about the state of jobs in the United States. Jesse Russell reports:
In Seattle on March 16 hundreds of construction workers and their supporters, many wearing iconic construction helmets, rallied in downtown. They called on the state of Washington and the city of Seattle to start creating jobs by breaking log jams on public works programs.
AFL-CIO Urges Quick Senate Action On Health Care Reform Changes – SEIU Says Congress Stood Up For People – 03/23/10
By Doug Cunningham
Our nation cannot afford to lose the productivity of thousands of undocumented immigrant students, a coalition of union, student and civil rights leaders said today. A day after a massive march in Washington, D.C., for comprehensive immigration reform, the leaders called on Congress to fix the nation’s broken immigration system by passing real reform legislation, including the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.
At a morning press conference, sponsored by the United States Student Association (USSA), student leaders were joined by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and other union and community leaders. More than 600 USSA members are in town for their legislative conference this week and will visit Capitol Hill to lobby for immigration reform. USSA President Gregory Cendana said:
The DREAM Act will provide some of the hardest working students with the life-changing opportunity to attend college and better their lives as well as their communities. We must now push forward to achieve comprehensive immigration reform and extend opportunity to the next generation of leaders.
The DREAM Act would give conditional legal status and eventual citizenship to undocumented students who graduate from U.S. high schools, are of good moral character, arrived in the United States as minors and have been in the country continuously for at least five years prior to the bill’s enactment.
Tom Saenz, president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), said the DREAM Act is about harnessing the brain power for the future growth of the country.
But it is as close to a no-brainer as you can get. The immigration system doesn’t follow our constitutional values or serve our national interest. The DREAM Act does both.
Fabiola is an example of the students who desperately need the DREAM Act. (We are not using her full name to prevent her from being identified and possibly deported.) She was only two years old when her father brought her to the United States 22 years ago seeking a better life. Fifteen years ago, her father became a U.S. citizen and all her younger siblings who were born here also are citizens. But Fabiola fell through the legal cracks and is now too old to become a citizen under current immigration law.
But that has not stopped her from working hard to live the American Dream. Last week, she graduated from the University of California Los Angeles with a degree in international development. But she cannot find a job in her field because she is undocumented. She says:
I am a product of a broken immigration system. Part of the American Dream is working hard. I don’t mind that part, but I would just like to see results like everybody else.
In contrast, Adey Fisseha became a citizen a week before graduating from Harvard. Now campaign coordinator for the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), Fisseha said her family fled Ethiopia because her father, a trade unionist, was being persecuted. The family braved the hot sun, attacks by the military and other hardships to finally reach a refugee camp in neighboring Sudan. They eventually made their way to the United States, where they sought a better life. Fisseha’s father now works at the AFL-CIO’s Solidarity Center.
The nation cannot afford to lose students like these, Trumka told the press conference.
Each year approximately 65,000 undocumented immigrant students graduate from U.S. high schools, often despite economic hardship and language barriers. Unless there is a change in immigration law, these capable and hard-working young people will be relegated to a life in the shadows, unable to achieve their full potential—and that’s an outcome our nation can no longer afford.
AFT Secretary-Treasurer Antonia Cortese agreed, telling reporters:
the students have done everything we ask students to do. They studied hard and worked hard and they deserve a chance to succeed.
National Education Association (NEA) Vice President Lily Eskelsen said:
Do you know what it means to me and to teachers all over the country to see these amazing students here today, telling us they get it? They’re saying: We’re not a charity. We’re working hard. But tell us that diploma will take us somewhere.
Trumka emphasized that the DREAM Act is a part of a broader immigration reform. The union movement’s unity framework for comprehensive immigration reform includes five interconnected initiatives. The plan calls for:
- Adjustment of status for currently undocumented immigrants;
- An independent commission to assess and manage future flows, based on labor market shortages that are determined on the basis of actual need;
- A secure and effective worker authorization mechanism;
- Rational operational control of the border;
- Improvement, not expansion, of temporary worker programs, limited to temporary or seasonal, not permanent jobs.
On Monday, in Cleveland, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler told a crowd of union activists outside a Morgan Stanley office:
“We’re here at Morgan Stanley to make one thing clear. We need good jobs now. And we are going to make Wall Street pay.”
Meanwhile, in another of the AFL-CIO’s 200 “Good Jobs Now, Make Wall Street Pay” actions taking place through the end of this week, top-hatted “bankers” panhandled for even more bonus bonanzas on a sidewalk in front of a Washington, D.C., Bank of America branch.
The rallies and marches are demanding the Big Six Wall Street banks—Bank of America, Citibank, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Wachovia-Wells Fargo—take the following actions:
- Pay their fair share to restore the jobs their actions destroyed.
- Stop their multimillion-dollar lobbying blitz to kill financial reform.
- Start lending to communities, small businesses and others starved for credit.
At the Morgan Stanley action, organized by the North Shore Federation of Labor, Shuler said it was the banks’risky practices, “Peddling meaningless junk—derivatives, credit default swaps, overpriced mortgages—none of it real,” that ravaged the economy and left us with an 11 million jobs deficit.
She also pointed out the $3 million Morgan Stanley has spent to kill financial reform. Overall in 2009, the Big Six spent more than $24 million to lobby Congress.
These corporations are willing to spend millions to block reform and keep the status quo. They’re counting on their lobbyists to keep Congress from doing anything.
And that’s where you come in. We’re here to make sure Congress is listening to working families, creating jobs and making Wall Street pay! And we’re not going to stop until we rebuild the middle class.
In Washington, the begging bankers weren’t as lucky shaking down money from passers-by as they were shaking down Congress for billions in bailout cash. But most of the noontime strollers who walked by took leaflets from the Metropolitan Washington [D.C.] Council activists who accompanied the bankers on the sidewalk theater. The “bankers” were not disturbed by the lack of donations. As one said:
That’s OK, we’ll just go get the money from Congress, as usual.
Not if working families have anything to say about it.
Union members today also staged Good Jobs Now! Make Wall Street Pay in Hartford, Conn., Paducah, Ky. and York, Pa.
You also can tell Wall Street executives to pony up and create good jobs by sending a letter urging them to do the right thing. Just click here.
Michigan public employees save the state nearly $16 million, and more news from the “Bargaining Digest Weekly.” The AFL-CIO Collective Bargaining Department delivers daily, bargaining-related news and research resources to more than 1,200 subscribers. Union leaders can register for this service through our website, Bargaining@Work.
UAW, State of Michigan: Michigan state workers have ratified a new contract designed to save the state nearly $16 million. Members of UAW Local 6000 will forgo 26 hours of pay during this fiscal year and will instead receive that time as banked leave, which can be used as vacation or cashed out at retirement.
Multiple, Public Service Enterprise Group: More than 5,000 workers at New Jersey’s largest utility company, Public Service Enterprise Group, agreed to forgo contracted wage increases to avoid layoffs. The members of five unions, including Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 94 and Plumbers and Pipe Fitters (UA) Local 855, had 18 months left on their current contract but extended it for two more years through 2013.
GMP, Owens Corning: After rejecting a contract offer earlier last week, workers at Owens Corning approved a revised three-year agreement on Thursday. The 560 members of Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics and Allied Workers (GMP) Local 244 had rejected the earlier proposal mainly due to changes in the company’s seniority policies.
WORK STOPPAGES & LEGAL ACTION
OPEIU, La Clinica: A Washington State health center has reached a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) stemming from charges filed by Office and Professional Employees (OPEIU) Local 8. During negotiations, La Clinica allegedly threatened to lay off workers unless they agreed to reduce or eliminate benefits, refused to negotiate personnel policies and failed to provide the union with relevant information.
AFM, Honolulu Symphony Society: The Musicians’ Association of Hawaii/AFM is petitioning a bankruptcy court to alter, appoint a trustee to, or throw out the Honolulu Symphony Society’s bankruptcy case. The union contends management’s decision to end fundraising and file for bankruptcy undermined donor confidence and created a self-fulfilling prophecy.
MNA-NNU, Borgess Medical Center: The Michigan Nurses Association-National Nurses United (MNA-NNU) last week filed an unfair labor practice charge against Borgess Medical Center in Kalamazoo, Mich. In its press release, MNA-NNU alleges that, among other things, the hospital has refused to bargain in good faith, harassed and intimidated nurses and removed all patient and employee protections from the collective bargaining process. The current contract was due to expire Friday.
UFCW, Shaw’s Supermarket: Shaw’s Supermarket warehouse and distribution workers have entered their third week on strike. The 310 members of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 791 have set up picket lines at 16 stores in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The union says it has not yet heard from Shaw’s about returning to the bargaining table.
UNITEHERE!, Westin Hotel: UNITEHERE! Local 217 members and supporters picketed in Providence, R.I., Thursday, after the Westin Hotel forced significant wage cuts and increases to workers’ health care contributions. The contract covering 200 hotel workers expired in October.
IBEW, City of Redding: IBEW Local 1245 is exploring its legal options after California’s Redding City Council voted to impose a one-year contract on workers at Redding Electric Utility. Local 1245 members will receive a 3 percent wage increase but will have their health and retirement benefits cut. Negotiations had been ongoing since July 2008.
CWA, ACS/Xerox: Fourteen EZ Pass workers fired March 8, allegedly for their union activity, were rehired by ACS/Xerox after the Communications Workers of America (CWA) launched a public campaign on the workers’ behalf. The workers joined CWA in August, but Xerox has refused to bargain.
USW, Appalachian Regional Healthcare: The United Steelworkers (USW) has reached a tentative agreement with Appalachian Regional Healthcare, covering workers in West Virginia and Kentucky. If ratified, the agreement will cover 2,300 workers in jobs ranging from clerical to nursing.
Disclaimer: This information is being provided for your information only. As it is compiled from published news reports, not from individual unions, we cannot vouch for either its completeness or accuracy; readers who desire further information should directly contact the union involved.
Some 200,000 people turned out in Washington, D.C., Sunday for a massive rally in support of immigration reform. Among the speakers, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker thanked the organizers of the rally, saying:
NOTHING in this country is more powerful than people united for change. And do we ever need change. We are here, as a united labor movement to tell Congress that we MUST pass comprehensive immigration reform.
The broken system is benefiting the very same corporate giants who destroyed our economy. It is allowing those corporations to exploit workers by underpaying them, or not paying them at all, simply because of their immigration status. As long as employers have a pool of workers who are too scared to complain, those corporations will continue to profit and workplace standards will continue to go down.
The AFL-CIO calls for immigration reform include:
- Legalization for the undocumented.
- An independent commission to assess and manage future immigration based on real needs and real labor market shortages.
- A secure, effective—and fair—worker authorization mechanism.
- Rational control of U.S. borders.
- Improvement, not expansion, of temporary worker programs, limited to temporary, not permanent, jobs.
These are the principles of the labor movement—we are united in support.
Immigration reform is one of many changes that are desperately needed if we are going to give all working families a fair shot at the American Dream. Working together, we have to change this system.